New JPL tech lets NASA scientists take a virtual walk around Mars

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NASA scientists are combining rover images of Mars with virtual reality to help plan future missions. (KABC)

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena unveiled a new technology it has developed to allow scientists to work in virtual reality on Mars.

NASA calls its technology "mixed reality," meaning virtual elements are combined with the user's real-world environment.

The OnSight headset developed with Microsoft allows scientists to "walk" around the surface of Mars using images sent from the rover Curiosity to explore the terrain and brainstorm ideas for new experiments.

"The way a scientist would use this is that shortly after rover images come down from Mars, we will build a virtual version of Mars immediately and then stream it to their devices," said Alex Menzies, with JPL's augmented-reality program.

"They'll be able to walk around on Mars, and identify potential new science targets, decide where they want to take pictures and plan out future drives of where they want to go."
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